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State safety committee in favor of colored BB guns


A bill that would require BB guns and similar weapons to be brightly colored, drafted in response to the shooting death of a 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy, passed its first major hurdle in Sacramento today.

The bill made it out of the Senate’s Public Safety Committee Tuesday on a 4-1 vote, over the opposition of the gun lobby.

It would require BB, pellet and airsoft guns to be brightly colored or translucent so that they are not mistaken for the real thing.

Lopez was shot and killed Oct. 22 by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy, reportedly after the deputy mistook Lopez’s BB-style gun for an authentic assault rifle.

“By passing this bill, we improve public safety. It’s that easy,” Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch testified at Tuesday’s hearing.

Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, a co-author of the bill, told the committee Lopez’s death was a “preventable incident.”

“This young man would be alive today if this law was the law of the state of California,” she said.

Ed Worley, the National Rifle Association’s spokesman in California, expressed opposition to SB 1999, which he described as “overly broad.”

Outside the hearing, Worley presented the bill as a de-facto ban on BB guns and similar weapons because “what boy wants a bright blue Daisy rifle?”

Sen. Steve Knight, R-Antelope Valley, who voted against the bill, said “orange or pink guns” would not help police when they are faced with a split-second decision whether to use lethal force.

“I would not evaluate the situation is ‘OK’ because I see a fluorescent gun,” he said.

13 Responses to “State safety committee in favor of colored BB guns”

  1. Rick says:

    Colors are meaningless. One of my daughters uses an AR style rifle for competition. It is painted bubblegum pink. My other daughter likes fluorescent green, so her competition rifle is painted that color. My son like the traditional look, so his competition AR style rifle is painted black. They shoot regularly and are always trying to improve their marksmanship. Color means nothing. Safety and proper handling is key. They never have access to their bright colored guns unless they are closely supervised and the ammo is tightly controlled. That is my responsibility. And yes, they play with toy guns occasionally. Some look close to real and some are painted bright colors. They stay on our property and are not allowed to even be seen from the road while playing with them. That is also my responsibility.

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  2. Geoff Johnson says:

    Deputy Gelhaus’ first thought should have been, “That could be a real firearm”; and his second thought, “We’d better have a look at it”.

    As others have explained, he couldn’t be sure of what he saw from a distance — and this bill would do nothing to help an officer in a similar situation.

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  3. Hey Evans, it was preventable with training says:

    Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, a co-author of the bill, told the committee Lopez’s death was a “preventable incident.”

    Evans is afraid of the Sheriff’s Association and a captive of the unions. So she didn’t bother to find any solutions to the real problem. She is simply solving another problem that is unrelated to the Lopez shooting. She doesn’t listen to the community.

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  4. Larry says:

    Colored guns are not the answer for the various reasons mentioned.

    Training is one answer, but it is training the parent, the child and the officers.

    No party is exempt from having some responsibility in this tragedy. The event could not have happened if any one of the participants was aware of the issues and avoided poor choices.

    This was really bad luck and we should do what we can to make sure it doesn’t repeat. Let’s stop attempting to assign blame and start working on education and other preventative actions across the population as a whole.

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  5. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    There is a difference in BB guns. Some shoot plastic pellets and these guns are used in games similar to paint ball games. BB guns with METAL pellets are really dangerous. Some are powerful too. These can kill a bird or other small animal which means they can penetrate through the skin. They should not be considered “toys”.

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  6. Reckless Disregard says:

    Rule #4: Know your target and beyond.

    What hasn’t been mentioned so far is that Deputy Gelhaus opened fire into occupied homes.

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  7. Victoria: Take A Close Look At Officer Training says:

    Based on the comments below and a series of others posted online over the past few weeks containing the same mantra, it appears the Sheriff’s Association and it’s supporters are engaging in group think or have retained a public relations consultant to conduct a campaign to blame the victim and his parents. The flaw in that position is even off duty cops can and have been targets and to attempt to teach the world how to be a better target does not prevent future deaths.

    It is not the parent’s fault that an experienced deputy pulled that trigger and repeating it over and over like a politician with a campaign stump speech does not make it so. But what did happen? Why did Deputy Gelhaus pull the trigger? Was the training the officer received a factor? Was his disregard for basic safety rules a factor?

    Fact: There was no 911 call. There was no crime in progress. There was nothing but a 13 yr old walking by himself in the middle of the afternoon and away from two police officers who drove up behind him in their car. Seconds later he was shot seven times and a home nearby was shot once.

    Discussion: Here is a link to a video made by a former police officer who takes on the serious public policy question that applies to the shooting of Andy Lopez. He explains that police training often boils down to “shoot the person holding the gun” as if our government endorsed sending police officers out to shoot people for merely possessing a gun—replica or not. He sets up a devil’s advocate scenario in which Lopez (or anyone really) was carrying a real gun. Is possession of a firearm alone enough to justify killing someone these days? No it is not. Because there are three criteria that need to be met for the justifiable use of force 1) ability 2) opportunity and 3) intent.

    He says the question to ask yourself is whether or not the possession of a firearm is “intent” to cause death or serious bodily harm. If not, then shooting someone who simply possesses a gun –real or replica– is negligence not a justifiable shooting.

    He then describes the training on the range and the scenarios given police officers in training which program them to equate people who are not wearing a police uniform and in possession of a firearm as a “bad guy” that can be shot…regardless of whether the individual demonstrated any intent to harm the officer.


    Oversight Issue: The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors should inquire how the deputies that work for the County are trained and whether or not the current standards allow them to equate mere possession with intent. If so, why is that and how can a higher standard be implemented? Do Sonoma County deputies have criteria in place to for the justifiable use of force? What is the criteria? The City Councils in Sonoma County should make similar inquiries. This is a policy issue raised by the shooting that elected officials have the ability and duty to raise. It dovetails with several of the recommendations made by the US Civil Rights Commission in their report issued in the year 2000.

    Secondly, it has been documented that Officer Gelhaus was reckless and violated one universal safety rule for weapons handling at least three times over the years in addition to the shooting of Lopez: when he shot himself in the leg in 1995, when he drew his weapon and had his finger on the trigger during a 1996 call from a woman seeking help, and in 2013 when he drew his weapon during a traffic stop.

    There are four universal safety rules for guns reviewed in the video linked below by a weapons instructor who has experience teaching police officers. Universal rule No. 3 was violated when Gelhaus shot himself in 1995. Why did he have his finger on the trigger?
    If you skip to rule no 3 at minute 4 titled “Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On Target And You Are Ready To Shoot The Weapon” you’ll find the instructor concludes by specifically stating that this rule applies whether the weapon is being put in or being taken out of the hostler.  The finger stays off the trigger.  Firearms cannot fire by themselves.  They only fire when loaded, chambered, and the trigger is depressed. So…”we keep our fingers off the trigger until our sights are on target and we are ready to shoot.”
    It is obvious a weapons instructor should not shoot himself while holstering a weapon. Not if the instructor is following the basic safety rules. If he failed to follow the basic rules, then a negligent shooting of his own body or someone else was foreseeable.

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  8. Jim says:

    I love how the politicians jump all over these cases. Every single one of them is an opportunist.

    Take a drive into the Bayview in San Francisco. Kids there use Sharpies to color the orange tips of their fake guns. AND…gang bangers paint the ends of their real guns orange. Why would a gang banger do that, you ask? To make cops hesitate.

    The problem in this situation is parental and needs to be fixed there, not by politicians. I know someone whose kid was in a very similar situation. Walking down the street with an airsoft pistol in his pants. Neighbors called the Sheriffs. The Sheriff drove up. The kid IMMEDIATELY put his hands up and laid on the group…BEFORE being asked. I asked the kid why and he said “I didn’t want to get shot.” He was told by his parents how the airsoft gun could look real to police and the public. His parents parented him. No politicians necessary.

    Oh, that happened BEFORE Lopez was see carrying a very real looking machine gun, not after.

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  9. Shocked Monkey says:

    Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, a co-author of the bill, told the committee Lopez’s death was a “preventable incident.”

    PLEAAAASE! The incident would never have happened if his parents knew what he was doing and did their job. You don’t let your kids wander the streets with a realistic looking toy assault rifle. It just defies common sense. Where were the others in his community who should have spoken up to him?

    It is a tragedy BUT ANDY’s parents and his community are responsible first and foremost.

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  10. Grapevines says:

    Complete and total waste of time, but Noreen excels at that anyway so why not?

    What’s to prevent the little gangster wanna-be’s from just repainting that “bright blue Daisy rifle” gun-metal grey?

    Quick trip to Ace Hardware and voila!! We end up with another AK47 look alike.

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  11. Steveguy says:

    Are they nuts ? BB and pellet guns are NOT toys ! They should NOT have toy colors !

    The Lopez kid had an airsoft gun that shoots little plastic BB’s at low velocity. It is a toy.

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  12. The Hammer says:

    Nanny State (look it up)

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  13. David Stubblebine says:

    For this bill to be even minimally effective it must also include harsh sanctions for toy guns painted black or real guns painted pink. Even then, it won’t be a perfect fix to the problem – but it will be a step in the right direction.

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